Dynamic Marketing Communiqué

The “Lord of Scents”: Check out this Marvel’s guide to lingering success! [Monday: Marketing Marvels]

November 28, 2022

Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more. 

A Note from Miles Everson:

Happy Monday! 

We hope you’re doing well. 

Let’s start the week with inspiration from our “Marketing Marvels”—remarkable professionals who made their way to the top of the career ladder with their skills and expertise. Every Monday, we feature these people and highlight their achievements that impacted not only themselves but also their communities. 

In this article, we’ll talk about the founder and CEO of one of the most famous and affordable perfume brands in the Philippines—Aficionado

Continue reading below and be inspired by this “Marvel’s” determination, perseverance, and success story.

Miles Everson
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute

Marketing Marvels 

Imagine you’re preparing for a formal event you need to attend in just a few hours. As you look at the mirror, you mentally check off the items on your outfit-of-the-day (OOTD) checklist. 

Clothes? Check. 

Shoes? Check. 

Accessories? Check. 

Is there something else you’re missing to complete your attire? 

Clue: It’s not something you can literally see when you look at the mirror, but it can help take your get-up to the next level. 


Did you know that in the Philippines, there’s this top industry professional many call the “Lord of Scents?” 

That person is none other than… 

Joel Cruz!  

Photo from IMDb

Cruz is the President and CEO of Central Affirmative Company Inc. (CACI), the company that owns Aficionado, one of the leading Filipino perfume brands. The perfume is sold for retail and wholesale in shopping malls and department stores. 

Before talking about Cruz’s brand and his life as a business owner, let’s first talk about his personal life and educational background… 

As a Psychology major at the University of Santo Tomas, Cruz had initial plans to pursue medical school. However, it all changed when he realized he had a passion for fashion, and so he asked his parents’ help in putting up a clothing atelier. It was in 1987 when he became a manufacturer and sub-contractor of garments for companies such as Rustan’s, Syvel’s, and Anson’s

Cruz’s first business went well. However, because of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, he was forced to close down his shop and migrate to California. There, Cruz tried venturing into a different career path by working under the sales department at The Filipino Channel, a 24-hour global subscription television network. 

In 1999, Cruz revisited his passion for fashion, but this time in the area of luxury scents. Realizing that his favorite scents were expensive and rare, he dreamed of having his own easily accessible and world-class perfume business. 

Since then, Cruz started manufacturing his own perfume products, employing more workers, and developing various scents under the business name, “Aficionado.” This led him to become known as the Philippines’ “Lord of Scents,”  and he also received various recognitions and awards such as: 

  • The Hall of Fame award from the Philippine Retailers Association in 2010 
  • Outstanding Entrepreneur in the Fragrance Industry by the Gawad Amerika Awards in Hollywood, California in 2010
  • The Gawad Amerika Award For Philanthropy from the Gawad Amerika Foundation in 2012
  • The Outstanding Thomasian Alumni or TOTAL Awards for Entrepreneurship by the University of Santo Tomas in 2012
  • Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy by Forbes Magazine in 2013

It’s no surprise how Aficionado became so popular in the Philippines because of its unique scents and affordable prices. Today, Cruz’s signature Aficionado perfumes are a staple in almost every shopping mall in the Philippines. 

Aficionado CARES 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit different parts of the world, many businesses were badly affected and some even closed down. Cruz’s Aficionado brand was also affected, but thanks to an already established contingency plan, the business sustained its operations. 

… and guess what? 

The company not only thrived in the midst of the pandemic but also widened its reach among larger customer segments! 

Since the Aficionado is involved in the concoction of chemicals, Cruz used it to venture into a related industry: Hygiene essentials

Photo from Shopee Philippines

In 2021, Aficionado launched the campaign, “Aficionado Cares,” where the brand offered ethyl alcohols, hand soaps, and hand sanitizers in addition to its original perfume line. The brand even donated some of the said products to frontliners and local government units (LGUs) as a form of support. 

What else did Cruz do at the peak of the pandemic? 

He also ventured into the food business sector! 

In 2020, he opened a new restaurant named, “Takoyatea by Joel Cruz.” The store serves refreshing milk tea and affordable Japanese cuisine that are appealing to most millennials and Gen Zs. 

Photo from FoodPanda

At present, Cruz’s food business has around 60 branches in the Philippines. 

Now that we know Cruz’s story, you might be wondering how you can also achieve success in your own way. If so, check out some lessons we can get from Cruz’s experiences: 

  1. Setbacks are also “blessings in disguise.” 

If Cruz hadn’t lost his garments business in the Asian Financial Crisis, his path would have been different. He wouldn’t be the “Lord of Scents” he is today. 

It’s amazing to see how that event led him to find his true calling—not to mention, a truly profitable one. So, if you think you’re struggling or experiencing some setbacks in your business, pull yourself together and get back in the game with better ideas, strategies, and insights. 

  1. World-class quality doesn’t always come with expensive prices.

If you want to give the best to your customers, you must also consider their means of buying your product. What’s the point of having excellent quality if it isn’t reaching the vast majority of consumers in your target market? It’s like sacrificing huge accumulated profits for one-time returns in bulk.

Let’s look at this in the lens of Cruz and his Aficionado business… 

Cruz wants Filipinos to have the chance to smell “world-class” without breaking the bank. So, how does he manage to do this while generating sales for Aficionado?

He is able to price his products more affordably because the company’s labor is sourced locally, with factories located in Meycauayan, Bulacan. Additionally, the perfume packaging’s raw materials come from direct manufacturers from China and Korea. 

As a result, Cruz and his brand successfully deliver high-quality offerings at an affordable price.

Truly, Cruz is a living legacy for those who are aspiring to make a name for themselves in their respective fields or businesses too! 

With a mindset of aiming to be world-class not only with his brand but also with his stellar motivation, he continues to be remembered as the Philippines’ “Lord of Scents” and the businessman who thinks and acts GLOCALLY (globally + locally). 

We hope you’re inspired by the story and experiences of today’s “Marvel!”

Always remember that success doesn’t come overnight. So, work hard and smart for things you want to achieve. With patience, consistency, determination, and the right set of strategies and implementation, you’ll also smell the scent of your own victory. 

Have an awesome start to the week! 

(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.) 

About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Monday Marketing Marvels”

Too often, industry experts and the marketing press sing the praises of some brand or company’s marketing strategy. 

… only for the audience to later find out that its product was a flop, or worse, that the brand or company went bankrupt.

The true ROI in marketing can’t be separated from the business as a whole. 

What good is a marketing case study if one can’t prove that the company’s efforts actually paid off?

At the end of the day, either the entire business is successful or it isn’t. And the roles of marketing and communication are always paramount to that success. 

Every Monday, we publish a case study that highlights the world’s greatest marketing strategies, marketers, and communicators. 

However, the difference between our articles and the numerous ones out there is that we will always make certain that the firm really did generate and demonstrate earning power worthy of study in the first place (compliments of Valens Research’s finance group) in keeping with a person’s leadership skills in the area of marketing and/or communication.

We’ll also study the greatest marketing fails and analyze what they did wrong, or what they needed to improve. We all make our mistakes, but better we learn from others’ mistakes—and earlier, rather than later.

Hope you found this week’s marketing marvel interesting and helpful. 

Stay tuned for next week’s Monday Marketing Marvels!


Kyle Yu 
Head of Marketing 
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities 
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